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This article is taken from PN Review 80, Volume 17 Number 6, July - August 1991.

Towards a Sound Photography: a Lake Eyre notebook Paul Carter

5/8/89 Driving between the Murray, Australia's largest river, and the south-western catchment of Lake Frome, between powdery veils of rain falling always between us and the hills, how little our 'memory' is visual. The retracing of roads - or, better, the tracing of roads (that are already re-tracings) resembles the old gramophone needle tracking the record. The journeying does not represent anything else; it is not an inventory of views - it embodies a particular history and it precisely enacts an original moment. Why do we not subject our roads to preservation? In the Otway Ranges on the south coast they have allowed enormous switchback highways to bypass or cover over the old zigzag tracks winding up and down the hills. Don't they see that this changed rate of passage, this aerial fantasy of immediate arrival - from which any gradient, any memorable interference with the pure pneumatic melody, has been cleaned - desecrates the bodies of the dead as effectively as the 'remastering' of a cemetery, its smooth resurfacing as a 'memorial park'?

Not that these old roads are filled with memories if by 'memories' we mean biographical associations. Rather they are, from this point of view, wholly unmemorable: the filmic succession of 'stills' created by the rhythm of passing telegraph poles is the only sign of a subliminal structuring of the flow of time, its arrest into images of movement. Here the memory is the physical trace of a particular intention and the technology that ...

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